Ahem. Because I was doing that too, and didn't have time to tell you until now.
At least you still have Christmas. And we all know that pies are mandatory around the holiday season. Even if you just pass this information on, you'll have given a great gift to a potential perfect pie maker.
Let me whisper the secret words in your ear:
food processor, chill before baking, pre-baking with pie weights
Phooey, you say? I'll explain why.
1. Food processor (cuisinart): perfectly incorporated fats, no danger of over kneaded chewy crust, and this is what will help your results become a shattering, crisp, flaky, crust.
2. Chill before baking: Before even rolling out the dough, chill the crust for 30 minutes, at least. When the butter begins to melt is when you have a problem of less flaky crust. Working the dough right after making it increases your chances that the butter is melting right in your hands. The butter pieces should melt in the oven, leaving little pockets of gorgeousness.
3. Pre baking with pie weights.: MOST pies could use a little pre-baked crust. Usually you don't need to bake the crust all the way, just lightly browned and hot, hot, hot. This helps especially with custard pies because then the filling doesn't make the crust super soggy, and let's face it, a pumpkin or sweet potato filling doesn't need a soggy crust. The filling is so thick it practically keeps a pie crust from cooking in the oven. Put foil over the pie crust, into the pie crust, I should say, and press so lightly so that the sides and bottom is covered directly by the foil. Put uncooked beans (I use pinto) to weigh the foil down so that the crust doesn't get super poofy.
You're probably reluctant and think that the crust will get over cooked. As long as you kept the tin foil on during the light baking part, the crust will not get over cooked.
Now the secret weapon. I told you the secret words, and the secret weapon is Cook's Illustrated pie crust recipe. This is hands-down the greatest, most perfect crust recipe I have ever had. I have tried every crust recipe out there, and I dare you to find a better one. And it's also easy to work with. It has some more secrets, like chilled shortening and butter.
- 1/2 C vegetable shortening, chilled
- 12 T cold unsalted butter cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 6-8 T ice water